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March 13, 2019

Teachers dominate county budget public hearing

As the cost of living increases and Fauquier teachers’ salaries remain stagnant, depressed, stale and uncompetitive, I can’t help but feel backed into a corner.
— Ritchie elementary teacher Lindsey Brubaker
Public Hearing
• Topic: Fauquier County’s proposed fiscal 2020 budget.

• When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 12.

• Where: Fauquier High School

• Agency: Board of supervisors

• Length: 2 hours and 17 minutes

• Speakers: 46

• Topics: School funding/teacher salaries; reuse of Warrenton’s W.C. Taylor Middle School, built in the 1950 as a consolidated black high school; nonprofit organization that provides free legal help to low-income people.


Budget Schedule

• March 14: Supervisors/school board joint work session work session, 4 p.m., Warren Green Building.

• March 19: Supervisors work session, 4:30 p.m., Warren Green Building.

• March 21: Supervisors adopt budget, tax rates and fiscal 2020-24 CIP, 4 p.m., Warren Green Building.

• July 1: Fiscal 2020 budget begins.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
Focusing on teacher salaries, they passionately urged the county board of supervisors to fully fund the proposed fiscal 2020 school budget.

About 250 people — the vast majority school supporters wearing red T-shirts that read “Advocates for Change” — attended the board’s March 12 public hearing on County Administrator Paul S. McCulla’s proposed fiscal plan.

All but one of 46 speakers addressed school issues during the hearing, which lasted 2 hours and 17 minutes.

Under Superintendent David Jeck’s budget, Fauquier’s 990 teachers would get 2- to 15-percent raises, depending on experience and placement on the school system’s pay scale.

One after another, Fauquier teachers talked about the temptation to flee the county for better pay elsewhere.

But they have resisted, partly because of their devotion to students, colleagues and the community, teachers explained.

County Administrator Paul S. McCulla’s proposed 2020 budget includes $3.5 million more in local tax dollars for the school system.

The supervisors last year had planned to provide the school system $2.5 million more for the fiscal year that begins July 1. 

Mr. McCulla’s plan would direct to the school system an additional $1 million from the “natural” growth of real estate and personal property tax revenue and interest on investments to address salary compression issues.

But the total proposed increase for the school system falls $1.4 million short of the amount Superintendent David Jeck seeks. 

Dr. Jeck’s fiscal 2020 plan totals $149.6 million, or 6 percent more than this year. That represents an $8.8 million increase over this year.

His proposed budget seeks $94.2 million from county taxpayers, an increase of $4.9 million.

“For 19 years, I’ve been an advocate and a voice for the children in this county and continue to stand up and speak on their behalf, so that they can get the quality education they deserve,” said Sharon Mellon, a teacher at C. Hunter Ritchie Elementary School near New Baltimore. “We are in the midst of not only a national teacher shortage but a county teacher shortage.”

Ms. Mellon called the situation a “crisis.”

“Unless properly compensated, the crisis will continue,” she said.

Ms. Mellon encouraged the supervisors to continue to press state lawmakers in Richmond to approve more funding for schools.

“I’m asking for all of us to be a voice for our children,” she said.

Lynsey Brubaker, a fifth-grade instructor at Ritchie, has 18 years’ experience and a master’s degree in reading and literacy.

Ms. Brubaker has spent 17 of those years at the New Baltimore school.

Neighboring Loudoun County has a competitive payscale, she said. In 2019, a first-year teacher there with a master’s degree earns $55,941 per year, or about $1,000 than she gets, Ms. Brubaker said.

Years ago, she had a chance to take a teaching job with Loudoun County for more pay.

Ms. Brubaker concluded she couldn’t “walk away” from Ritchie, the students and fellow teachers. But that decision sometimes still nags her.

“As the cost of living increases and Fauquier teachers’ salaries remain stagnant, depressed, stale and uncompetitive, I can’t help but feel backed into a corner,” Ms. Brubaker admitted. “And, I question my decision to be a Fauquier educator so many years ago.”

Fauquier teachers “have been reduced to begging for a livable wage because we love our schools, we love our colleagues, but most of all we love our students and their families,” she said.

Ms. Brubaker also called the departure of Fauquier teachers for better pay a “crisis.”

Ensuring high-quality education “starts with a competitive pay scale to attract and retain exemplary teachers,” she told the supervisors. “Thank you for fixing what desperately needs a change.”

Tom Valk, chairman of the Fauquier Taxpayers Association, suggested the school system should get less money than Mr. McCulla suggested because of mismanagement.

For example, “we have and have had the same middle school problem in Warrenton for the last decade,” Dr. Valk said. “It still needs to be solved . . . . Increased maintenance on aging properties is unnecessarily high as a result.”

Dr. Valk described the county administrator’s school budget recommendation as “a message to the school board to get their and our school house in order.”

But, the supervisors and the school board apparently have agreed to a $40-million concept to address Warrenton’s two aging middle schools and the expansion of Cedar Lee Middle near Bealeton.

As part of the plan, Warrenton or W.C. Taylor would be remodeled and expanded to serve as a consolidated school to accommodate up to 650 students. The other structure would house a range of the potential school and government uses.

If Taylor gets repurposed, Ersaline Anderson asked that the supervisors to appropriate funds so the school can “to continue operate as an educational facility” and to include a museum that “shows the journey for this particular school.”

Before integration, the county built Taylor in the 1950s as a consolidated high school for black students.

Ms. Anderson and others who attended Taylor High School spoke about the building’s historic significance.

Only one speaker — Anne Klockner, executive director of Legal Aid Works — didn’t discuss school funding Tuesday night. The nonprofit provides free legal assistance to low-income people in a five-county region that includes Fauquier.

http://www.legalaidworks.org/about/

Ms. Klockner thanked the supervisors for Fauquier’s continued financial support of the organization.

Under Mr. McCulla’s proposed fiscal 2020 spending plan, Fauquier homeowners would face a small increase in real estate tax bills. The proposed budget calls for the owner of an “average” home to pay $45 more taxes.

The average tax bill would increase to $3,771, according to his plan.

Mr. McCulla’s plan totals $331.3 million, representing a $300,000 increase.

A proposed $9.8-million reduction in capital investments would allow the county to re-allocate money to help fund the operating budget.

A proposed 1.2-cent increase in the real estate rate would generate about $1.15 million — all of which would fund nine new emergency services jobs and the reclassification of three existing positions in the department.

Mr. McCulla’s budget provides funding for 12 new positions:

• Six emergency services department technician II positions ($651,000) and three captain positions ($465,000); the reclassification of three positions ($39,000). The department employs 120, including 112 who run calls.

Under his proposal, the department’s budget would total $17.9 million, or a 5.6-percent increase from this year.

• An information technology department security analyst position ($115,000).

• A sheriff’s office crime analyst position ($91,000).

• A county department of social services position ($71,000).

• A 1.4-percent cost-of-living and 0.6-percent merit increase for county government employees ($1.2 million).

The county’s proposed fiscal 2020-2024 construction plan totals $64.5 million, with an additional $195.5 million designated for “future” years. 

The supervisors and school board will conduct at joint work session on Thursday, March 14, at 4 p.m. in the Warren Green Building.

The supervisors on Tuesday, March 19, will conduct their last scheduled budget work session.

They expect on March 21 to adopt the budget, capital improvements plan and tax rates.

The new fiscal year begins July 1. 

Contact Don Del Rosso at Don@FauquierNow.com or 540-270-0300.
Member comments
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Tony Bentley · March 18, 2019 at 9:14 am
SaveFC2019 - Maternal? Sexist? Where are you coming up with that from what I posted? I'd like a new car, but it isn't going to happen anytime soon, and especially if our taxes keep going up so that SOME teachers can drive a Mercedes and live in a $500,000 house.
Savefauquiercounty2019 · March 18, 2019 at 6:26 am
Tony Bentley, there are plenty of jobs out there so manipulating statements stating teachers should be grateful is beyond the level of being an overused sexist phrase. We have all heard teachers make sacrifices as if it they don't agree to they aren't maternal. Pushing for fair wages, competitive salaries and benefits means highlighting they have to per requirement of the teaching profession need a 4 year degree. They also have to pass more exams vs other professionals such as lawyers. What is it going to take to get this into the brains of people like you...it isn't fair or ethical anymore. If a teacher and other prof gets help paying for their tuition good for them. But they deserve fair wages for the job they do at their educational level.
Tony Bentley · March 17, 2019 at 10:44 am
PabloCruz - My response was to Savefauquercounty2019 comment "Teachers have to pay tuition for a 4 year required degree." Sure they pay tuition with the help of many resources to reduce the actual out of pocket costs to the student. Everyone with a college degree pays tuition in one form or other, so that statement from Savefauquiercounty 2019 was misleading. Some of those people with college degrees are now working at fast-food places because they can't find or get a job in their field. Someone should have talked sense into some of those choices, like art major. Really?!

I'm all for teachers getting fair pay based on merit, not just because they are a teacher. There are a few BAD teachers in with the MANY great ones. In my opinion teachers deserve much more then Hollywood actors and sports figures who get millions to act or play a game. It's ridiculous the amount of money they get, and it's the people in this country who perpetuate that ridiculousness. Teachers are the backbone of society, they are the pathway for our children to becoming good citizens and of value to the world through their learned skills.

My issue again is with the "poor me" mentality. You have a JOB consider yourself lucky since many don't.
PabloCruz · March 17, 2019 at 7:47 am
Tony Bentley-The article is about the public budget hearing, and that many teachers came out to advocate not just for themselves, but for all school staff. This advocacy is warranted based upon the fact that the BOS, the school board, and the county administration all agree that teachers pay has fallen behind. They also agree that the pay gap is significant enough that it will require a multi-year plan to fix.
Tony Bentley · March 16, 2019 at 4:04 pm
PabloCruz - I'm not insinuating anything. The facts stand that if someone needs help to become a teacher the resources are out there. "I" have NO IDEA how anyone else out there is funding their college education?

Our son graduated from Longwood U with honors in 2018 and NO, I REPEAT NO, college debt. Why? Because we saved and saved to make sure he graduated without being burdened with debt starting out. No Federal Financial Aid or student loans!! He had a job before he even graduated and is doing very well.

While his best friend received a 4 year free ride because his parents divorced and the young man used his mother's tax return where she only worked part time, not his father's who is an IT guy. Tell me about no having any idea how people fund their college educations! Some people are taking advantage of their family dynamic, while others are paying their fair share.

If I'm insinuating anything as you imply, it's that there is a lot of "poor" me going around. Lucky they were able to go to college, my wife and I joined the military to be able to afford our education, while serving our country, so BACK OFF PABLO.
PabloCruz · March 16, 2019 at 9:03 am
Tony Bentley- you have no idea how teachers, or anyone else for that matter, are funding their college education. And besides, young people get loans, scholarships, and grants for every kind of major there is in college. These loans, etc. are dispersed based upon many factors such as; merit, need, accomplishment, etc. So what does that prove? Just what are you insinuating?
Tony Bentley · March 15, 2019 at 9:59 am
Private Sector Grants for Teaching Students:

Many grants for teaching students are supported through the private sector. Professional associations, corporations and philanthropic organizations are all sources of grant money for students pursuing a career in teaching. These grant programs routinely target specific high-need disciplines, such as mathematics, science and special education, as well as sectors of the population that have been historically under-represented in the teaching profession.

The following examples of grants for student teachers will give a brief overview of what is available from the private sector.

The American Council of Learned Societies provides 14 annual grants and fellowships for students pursuing their teaching studies in fields strictly related to the humanities. Fields include anthropology, archaeology, political science, history, sociology and psychology. Award amounts vary, and grant recipients are determined by committee.

Citigroup’s Smarter Schools and Smarter Classrooms Grant provides financial assistance to low and middle income students who are pursuing a degree in teaching. Special attention is given to those students pursuing teaching degrees in high need fields.

The Woodrow Wilson-Rockefeller Brothers Fellowship for Aspiring Teachers of Color is available to post-graduate students of color who are pursuing their masters degree in education. 25 fellowships are awarded annually. Recipients are given a $30,000 stipend to complete their education, but must agree to a three year term of service at a nigh need public school.

The Robert G. Porter Scholars Program is administered through the American Federation of Teachers. The program offers grants to student members of the AFT who are completing their degrees in education. Awards range from $1000 to $8000 depending on the student’s member status, course work and level of achievement.
Students looking for grant programs to help them begin, or complete, their training to become qualified teachers should continue their search by combining their status as a student with their specific fields of interest. Consider the following when searching for grant programs for teaching students.

Race or ethnic background
Field of interest. For example, elementary education, special education, higher mathematics, engineering or technology.
Financial need
Region specific service terms
Tony Bentley · March 15, 2019 at 9:54 am
Savefauquiercounty2019 -"Teachers have to pay tuition for a 4 year required degree." Don't you mean that many teachers get "grants" from the Federal Government and other sources to help with tuition?

"Government Grants for Teaching Students:

Federal and State-based grant programs are rich sources of financial aid for students pursuing a degree in teaching. These programs have been designed to address a number of critical issues currently facing the American education system, including diversification, increasing the number and qualifications of mathematics and science teachers, and increasing the availability of qualified educators in traditionally poor and under-served communities.

Government sponsored grants for teaching students are primarily grants-for service. Students who accept financial aid must agree to a predetermined term of service teaching in a high need field, or in a critical need facility or community. These terms are non-negotiable, and students should be aware of all of the requirements attached to any grant for which they are applying.

Some of the most notable government grant programs for students pursuing a career in teaching include:

The Federal TEACH Grant – This Federally supported program provides financial aid to students who are pursuing a degree in teaching. Award amounts are $4000 per academic year. Students must agree to serve a minimum of four years in a high need field or facility. Grant recipients who fail to complete their term of service will have their awards converted to a Direct Unsubsidized Loan, which they will then be required to pay back in full.

The Federal Transition into Teaching Program – This is an umbrella program that includes the Federal Pell Grant, as well as a selection of loans and loan forgiveness plans targeting teaching students who agree to take up positions in historically under-served communities.

The Academic Competitiveness and National SMART Grants – These Federally supported grants are designed to encourage and support students pursuing high level studies in critical need fields such as science, mathematics, engineering, technology and foreign languages. The ACG grant is available to undergraduate students, while the SMART grant is designed to benefit graduate level students. Both grants are applicable to students pursing a teaching degree, with a specialization in one of the designated critical need disciplines.

There are many state-based grant programs designed to encourage, support, and retain resident students who are pursuing careers as educators. These programs vary from state to state, and interested students should visit the dedicated website for their state’s Department of Education for detailed information on available programs."
Jim Griffin · March 15, 2019 at 8:38 am
I am curious about the Fauquier Taxpayers Association. Cannot find a form 990 filed by the organization, so I ask: How many members does it have? What does it cost to join? Do they have meetings the public can attend to better understand them and how they operate? Was he elected chairman or was he appointed?
Savefauquiercounty2019 · March 14, 2019 at 7:35 pm
Teachers graduate from a 4 year accredit college and or a master's program accredited college( another 2 years). They are required to pass a licensure exam, take more tests than a lawyer. Some have certificates or dual minors to teach either elementary, middle or high and or special ed with autism, gifted etc.
Tell it like it us needs to take a hike cause the teaching profession is by farthest the most achieved and educated group of professionals.
You can be a nurse with a 1 yr or 2 yr or 3 yr or 4vr or 5 yr degree. Most sit for the same exam.

Teachers have to pay tuition for a 4 year required degree. If the public doesn't think their educational levels are necessary push for a 2 year program.

Either you want and treat our educators to the highest regards or you don't. I am happy I don't have to teach especially with people like tell it like it is.

Minimizing or diminishing a teacher`s merit cause they all can't be teacher of the Year is a controlling, manipulative tactic.
Tell It Like It Is · March 14, 2019 at 8:58 am
Agreed bigger classes, less teachers, send the rest packing. I see some of the faces of teachers in this article. Some may live close to Warrenton, have horses, a new barn and enough land for same. They must be starving. I am not saying they can't have such, but I also don't wanna hear how bad off they have it either.

100 years ago everyone had horses only the rich had automobile. Today everyone has an auto or even 3 of them and only the rich have horses.

Tired of this whining. In the real world you get a raise by outstanding performance, not by just being there and existing.

How many of the teachers that spoke were recently recognized by state for outstanding performance?? Not many if any I bet.
nonewtaxes · March 13, 2019 at 10:32 pm
Increase class size to 30
decrease teachers by 25%
use savings for raises
PabloCruz · March 13, 2019 at 9:03 pm
jimbowski, were you at the public hearing last night?
Jimbowski · March 13, 2019 at 8:11 pm
According to info published in this paper several weeks ago it included a breakdown of the reasons why teachers left in the 2017-18 school year. This study by the human resources office was the basis for the 12.5% turnover. However, only 17 teachers gave salary as the reason.....sorry but 17 leaving for salary reasons does not rise to the level of an emergency. If you want to give raises just say so--don't create a phony crisis to give 15% raises.

Moving away from the teacher situation a see a new position for an IT security position at a cost of $115,000. You might as well save the money because that aint gonna buy much real security in today's environment. I also see 3 new fire captains at a cost of about $150k per. How much will the real cost be if they hire from within and then backfill within the ranks.?
Savefauquiercounty2019 · March 13, 2019 at 6:55 pm
The Autism Research institute has positions. One a school nurse starts at $65,000. Albemarle, orange, green, Culpeper counties are not too far to relocate. Teachers, whenever they build, renovate instead of paying competitive salaries they will never get serious. Faquexit.
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